Sunday, May 22, 2016

2015-16 report card - Inverness CT

There may be trouble ahead
Inverness Caledonian Thistle.svg

LEAGUE: 7th, 52pts (2014-15 - 3rd, 65pts)
SCOTTISH CUP: Quarter-finals
LEAGUE CUP: Quarter-finals
EUROPA LEAGUE: Second qualifying round
MOST USED FIRST XI: Owain Fon Williams, Josh Meekings, Danny Devine, Gary Warren, Carl Tremarco, Ross Draper, Greg Tansey, Liam Polworth, Iain Vigurs, Danny Williams, Miles Storey

OVERVIEW: Coming off a cup win and a third place finish, 2015-16 was always going to be an anticlimax for Caley Thistle.  And ultimately coming seventh is hardly a disaster; there was never a realistic threat of relegation (though that didn't stop me worrying), and with a bit of luck (and not conceding nine goals in the ninetieth minute or later!) they would have been top six.  But my god it was dull.  Home games were often spent watching the team keep possession in their own half for aeons without any cutting edge in attack, and too many goals and games were lost by silly defensive blunders.  Most of the best performances were away from home.  And John Hughes' acrimonious exit made sure that the campaign ended under a cloud.

HIGH POINTS: Winning all three league derbies.

LOW POINTS: Going out of both cups timidly at home - to Ross County and Hibs - was a right shame.  Losing twice in Inverness to both Motherwell and Hamilton was pretty grim.

STAR MAN: Up until January it was the glorious Ryan Christie.  After he departed for Celtic's subs bench, I'd say Ross Draper was the top performer.

ONE FOR THE FUTURE: Liam Polworth was surprisingly handed a one year contract last year, despite failing to establish himself in the team.  He was the primary beneficiary of the injury problems, and several goals and assists and an under-21 call-up later, he's one of the first names on the teamsheet.

WASTE OF SPACE: Dani Lopez was a Spanish striker with a lousy touch and the turning circle of a bus.  He managed a solitary goal before injury; when he got fit again he promptly got banned for spitting on a St. Johnstone youngster in a reserve game.  This delightful fellow was punted in January, thankfully.

THE BOSS: It's a shame it ended like this, with bitterness and infighting between Yogi and the board.  But all Hughes' moaning about budgets smells very much like a man who was manufacturing his exit.  Given he had burned his bridges with many fans because of the turgid football and the treatment of David Raven, he won't be missed much.  But I suspect that once this has all faded into memory a bit, he'll be remembered for the positives - primarily that Scottish Cup triumph.

PROSPECTS FOR NEXT SEASON: Very unclear at this point.  The smart money is on Richie Foran being promoted from within, an extremely risky move which feels like the cheap and lazy option to this writer.  Stability might convince some out-of-contract players to sign on, but does Foran have the contacts to find the new faces the club needs?  Does he have the coaching acumen?  It all feels very Eddie May and Tommy Craig to me...and look how those appointments turned out...

FIRST TEAMERS DEFINITELY LEAVING: Liam Hughes, David Raven, Miles Storey (end of loan), Nat Wedderburn

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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